Poked and Groped, Part II

Today I went to see Dr. Shimizu, Radiation Oncologist.  We met briefly to discuss what’s next.  I found out that I have to get a new deodorant; nothing with aluminum.  Another interesting thing was I was told I couldn’t take anything that was extra antioxidants supplements.

After we were done talking, I was taken to get a CAT scan.  The nurse walked me around and showed me where I would go from now on.  They gave me my hospital bracelet that I’ll show each time I check in.  I changed my clothes and waited to be taken to the CAT scan.  This wasn’t so bad as the MRI.  I did have to hold still but didn’t have to hold my breath.  They had me lay on my back and positioned all the pads and arm bar.   Once I was down on the table, I put my arms above my head and then Dr. Shimizu marked with pen the areas that will be shot with radiation.  They taped wires and little metal beebees to my skin so it would show up on the film.  I was then rolled back and forth into the machine for a couple of minutes.  When I was done, I got my tattoos.  Oh and guess what, I am allergic to tape.  One spot turned red after 5 minutes.  Now about the tattoos; OUCH!  I always thought I wanted to get one but, no thank you.  These are smaller than a freckle and they hurt like a son of a mother.    I now have 4 on my chest including one on the breast that doesn’t get radiation.

Once I was done, the nurse showed me the room where I will be getting my treatment.  She knew I was keeping a blog and said that if I wanted to, I can take a picture to post it.

And so it begins…… next Tuesday, I will have my daily radiation treatments, 5 days a week for the next 6-1/2 weeks.

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Right on Schedule…..

Today I spoke with Dr. Shimizu’s office and it turns out I didn’t need insurance approval after all  for radiation,  so tomorrow I go see him.  It will start off with a one-on-one and then over to the planning session.  I don’t know if this means I get measured and the tattoos tomorrow or I’ll have to go back again.  Tomorrow it will be exactly 3 weeks since my surgery so everything seems to be going as planned.

This afternoon I met with Dr. Bernstein.  We talked about the treatment after radiation.  Turns out I won’t go on Tamoxifen or Raloxifene.   The drug that I could go on causes bones to become weak.  So, in case I do go on that drug, I have to go in for a bone density test.  I need to have this done anyway since I’m post-menopausal.  He said it’s completely up to me if I want to go on the drugs afterwards.

I will post tomorrow after I meet with Dr. Shimizu.

Two weeks later……

Today was my 2 week follow up appointment with Dr. Wilde.  Apparently, for some, the steristrip bandages stay on some people until their 2 week follow up appointment.  For me, they’ve been off for almost a week.  As she was checking her handy work, I told her that she left a beautiful a scar.  She was actually quite happy with the results and we did a fist bump right there on the exam table.

I now have an appointment with Dr. Bernstein (medical oncologist) on Monday to discuss possible oral follow up medication.  Dr. Wilde doesn’t seem to think that I’ll need it but she said that was up to Dr. Bernstein.  I am going to talk to him about the possibility of not going on Tamoxifen and taking Raloxifene instead.  Tamoxifen has a lot of negative side effects and is usually given to women who are pre-menopausal.  Since I’m such an over achiever and have already been through menopause, I’m hoping to go on the other one, if he finds it necessary.

I have to wait now for my insurance company to approve the radiation treatments.  I hope to get this started next week.

Going on disability has been a joy.  Apparently as of March 1st, the state doesn’t accept the type of form I received from work.  Fortunately I did my portion online but the doctor form was outdated so I had to have the doctor’s office redo the form.  I had to wait until today to get the completed form back from them.  I came prepared had the envelope stamped and since I got to the office early, like I always do, I went down to the mail box.  However I found the mail had already been picked up for the day.  I’m curious to see how much the actual amount will turn out to be and how soon I get the first check.

Bandage is off, thank God!

Today was my follow-up appointment with Dr. Wilde.  I was dying to have the bandage off as it was itching so bad and Tylenol doesn’t do anything for itching.

When she came in, she said we had more good news.  The pathology from the lumpectomy showed that the cancer was non-invasive so it was verified Stage 0.  Funny, I didn’t even realize there was a chance it could be anything different.  They took out 2.5 cm of tissue so I’m wondering how distorted my breast will turn out.

I did find out that the cancer is ER positive which means I will have to go on Tamoxifen or something similar to stop it from coming back or appearing in my other breast.  In two weeks I’ll see Dr. Wilde again, make arrangements to see Dr. Bernstein (medical oncologists) and Dr. Shimizu (radiology oncologist) and begin the treatments.

I’m just glad I get to finally take a shower and get this orange glow off of me.  The one thing I was looking forward to was not having to wear a bra this whole time but apparently I have to wear an extra supportive one.  Yippee.  😦

The Worst Part is now over

Let me preface this that I might have some spelling errors or might be incoherent.

We got to the surgery center at 9am and were taken to the back.  We waited there for 2 hours before they took me over to the Breast Center to get a stereotactic wire insertion.  This time it didn’t hurt much at all.  Took another mammogram and headed back to the surgery center.

I came back to the surgery center and met with Anesthesiologist, Dr. Wilde and the operating room nurse that all asked the same questions.

The operating room was freezing so they wrapped me in blankets with heater.  The inserted the IV and that’s the last I remember until I woke up in recovery.

We got home and I was finally able to eat a sandwich thin with peanut butter and some Cheetos.  Mom left and got her suitcase and brought back some chicken tenders.

I’m still very groggy but not much pain yet.

Isn’t the photo of me in my shower cap and with the compression stockings attractive? 🙂

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It just hit me……

I was sitting here relaxing this afternoon and I realized in 3 days I’m having surgery.  It’s been almost 34 years since I’ve been under general anesthesia.  Then, I had morphine (ahhh!) to deal with the pain.  I don’t know what I’ll be able to take after this.  Unfortunately, Vicodin makes me ill.  I haven’t been able to take Aleeve since Tuesday and nothing with aspirin.  It was fun the other day having a migraine and not being able to take anything.

I’ve been busy at work for the past two weeks, so I haven’t really had a chance to dwell on the surgery, but now I realize that it’s happening.  Now I’m nervous and anxious.  I’m resorting to alcohol  at night since I can’t take my sleeping pills and my hot chocolate isn’t working.  😦

I feel bad for my mom.  We have to get there at 9am and my surgery isn’t until 11:30.  It’s too far for her to go home and come back.  She doesn’t use a computer or a smart phone.  I just hope they have something on the TV for her to watch to keep her occupied.  We’re not sure if she’ll be spending the night with me on Tuesday.  Both nurses I’ve spoken to have said I need to have someone stay with me for 24 hours.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see how I feel.

One more day at work then time off for a couple of months.  This is going to be weird.  I haven’t gone this long without working ever!  I’ve got a lot of movies saved up on the DVR.

I will try to post on Tuesday after the surgery but I’m not sure how I’ll feel or if I’ll be coherent.  🙂

Surgery is scheduled

I finally heard from the doctor’s office today.  My surgery is scheduled for 11:30 am on Tuesday, April 9th.  I will then have a follow up appointment on the 11th see hear about the pathology report.  I believe this is when I will find out if my particular cancer is an estrogen receptor cancer, meaning it needs estrogen to grow.  Now since I’ve already been through menopause, I don’t know how much I have left.  If it is this kind, then I’ll see Dr. Bernstein afterwards to see about going on a non-hormone medication so the cancer won’t come back.  He did say that side effects are hot flashes.  Great, just when I thought I was over those.

If everything is on schedule then I should be starting radiation on or about April 30th for 5-7 weeks.  That should give me about 2 months to get my strength back for my trip (which by the way is in 154 days.  🙂 )

 

Alaska vegas cruise

Answers and Tears of Relief

I’m starting this while I’m waiting in the doctors office. They said they would squeeze me in today and judging by the crowd here in the waiting room, that’s true.

My biggest concern is what they found out on the biopsies from Friday. I’m so bruised, they girls look like they’ve been through quite a beating.

As I’m writing this, tears of relief are pouring out of me.  The three biopsies from Friday all came back negative.  The knot in my stomach is finally gone.  When Dr. Wilde came into the room, the first thing she said was, “We have really good news from your biopsies”.  As soon as she said that I started crying.  So now we schedule the lumpectomy and go with radiation to treat the cancer we know about.  Because I was the last patient of the day, Renee will have to call me tomorrow to schedule surgery.  I never thought I would be happy about a surgery.

I can’t thank you all enough for your prayers and thoughts these past few days.  They have helped me tremendously and God was listening.  I still have a bit of a battle to go but now I know what I’m fighting.

I’m now going to take off my bra and give the girls some freedom.

More to come…..

attitude

Okay, that wasn’t any fun at all.

First off let me say that Xanax and I have broken up. The bastard deserted me today.  But I digress.

Mom and I made good time to La Jolla this morning.  We got their 15 minutes early and met up with my favorite nurse Tracy.  She gave me more paperwork to fill out and handed the remote to my mom so she could watch QVC again.  Since we were the only ones there, we went back together and Tracy got me hooked up with the IV catheter.  Dr. Thompson came in and told me about the procedure.

They took me into the room and ran the wand over me to make sure I didn’t have any metal and then into the MRI room.  Once I was there, I climbed up on the table and dropped the girls into the holes.  Once I positioned my head, they began clamping both of them so they wouldn’t move.  They slid me into the tube and began the first scan.  After a few minutes the injected the contrasting liquid so they could find the spots again.

They pulled me out of the tube and cleaned me off with the Betadine and then started injecting the lidocaine.  This time there was pain.  Once both sides were numb, they then inserted the catheters for the needles.  Unfortunately, the two on the left were causing me a lot of pain so he had to give me double the dosage.  As I’m laying there, I told them that I was breaking out in a cold sweat.  They put ice packs on my neck and back which helped.  The whole time I was laying there my left arm was getting a nerved pinched and I started losing feeling in my arm.  The worst part; I couldn’t move it at all.  Again, I’m slid into the tube so they could make sure the catheters were placed correctly.  Once that was confirmed, Dr. Thompson came in and proceeded with the taking the samples.  Well apparently the lidocaine in my left breast wasn’t enough and he had to give me more.  Taking all three samples felt like forever.  Before they were done, more markers were put in place in each location.   I slid back into the tube one more time and then I was finished.  Tracy came back and proceeded to remove the catheters.  Again more pain.  Bev, the gal I met during the Genetic counseling meeting, came in to assist Tracy with getting me off the table.  They each had to hold pressure on each of my breast while I lifted me self up.  Finally, blood was flowing back into my left arm.  Apparently the biopsy also caused a lot of bleeding to they had to keep pressure on my breast.

When I was finally able get my self up, I was very weak so they had to put me in a wheelchair.  Because of my cold sweat, they had to also give me an IV.  Once I was settled in the chair, they moved me to another room to lay down on a table on my back.  Now this was the worst.  They had to make sure any clots were squeezed out.  OMG, that was excruciating.   So much so I had to do Lamaze breathing.  Once they were done,  they had me sit up.  Instead of bandages or stitches, the holes were sealed with super glue (Durabond).  I was given ice packs and then wheeled over to the Breast Center for a mammogram.  Dear God, how much more squeezing could these girls take?  It wasn’t too bad.  When it was over, Dr. Thompson came back in and said everything went very well.

I got dressed and Mom and I came home.  Unfortunately I can only take Tylenol for pain.   I’ll just keep icing down the girls to keep the swelling down and hope the pain subsides.  Since one of the biopsies was close to my nipple, I get to look forward to bloody discharge from that nipple.  Sorry if that was TMI.  🙂

Tracy had mentioned that I might be able to get my results on Sunday but Dr. Thompson said no.  Dr. Wilde wants to give them to me so I won’t find out anything until Monday when I go see her at 3:45.

I’m just going to pop in my Golden Girl DVD’s, put ice packs on the girls and try and sleep.  More Monday night.

Just when I thought things were moving forward…….

Today was my follow up appointment with Dr. Wilde.  She was running late from surgery so my 2:15 appointment became 3:00.  As I played my Ruzzle Game and Fruit Ninja, she finally came in.  It turns out the MRI found 3 more “abnormalities”.  Two more in my left breast and now one in my right.  These kind of abnormalities can only be found with an MRI so God knows how long I have had them.  So instead of scheduling my lump/mastectomy we now had to schedule an MRI Biopsy of all three.

I was very fortunate that they were able to move another person around to get me in this Thursday morning.  I have to be there at 6:45 am and plan to be there for about 2 hours.  This will be a MRI guided biopsy.  I guess I’ll get to spend time with my new best friend, Xanax again.  They are calling in another prescription for me.   After the biopsy I have to go see Dr. Wilde, yet again, for the results.

Here’s what I know:

  • I definitely have DCIS in my left breast
  • I have two clumped non mass-like abnormalities in my left breast
  • I have one clumped non mass-like abnormality in my right breast

Here’s what I don’t know:

  • Are the 3 new items cancer as well?
  • Am I having a lumpectomy or now radical mastectomy?
  • If the 3 new items are cancer, do I now have to have chemo?
  • When the hell is all of this going to come out of my body?

I was really doing well with all this until today.  The minute I say it out loud to my mom, that’s when I lose it.

I’m not a religious person, I never have been.  I do believe in God but I don’t think it’s necessary to go to a building to speak with him.  He’s where ever you find peace within yourself.  He and I have been talking a lot lately.  I’ve been told we’re never given anymore than we can handle and we find strength around us and within us.  I am very lucky to have the best supportive and loving parents, friends I work with or have worked with and even new friends that I have yet to meet, that are there for me.  I want you to know, that from the bottom of my heart, I am so grateful that you are in my life and for all your prayers.  It is giving me so much strength.

I will post more on Thursday, after me and my friend Xanax have parted ways.